Marketing Innovators Luncheon Seminar
Innovation 3.0: Delivering Value, Chicago-Style
Like everyone else, business-to-business companies have had to tighten their belts in the last few years. But if your company has been holding out on investing in innovation during the Great Recession, you’ve likely been missing out on a great opportunity.
Learn why when innovation thought leader Tom Kuczmarski hosts BMA’s first Marketing Innovators Luncheon Seminar of the new year on Thursday, January 13, at The Standard Club. The co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards and four of the awards program’s 2010 winners—all b-to-b companies—will engage in a panel discussion and show how developing solutions to customer needs enabled them to deliver value to their clients and drive growth, even in a major recession.
Representing the panel of 2010 Chicago Innovation Award winners will be:
Bob Gillespie, CEO of InContext Solutions, whose winning innovation, 3D Virtual Store Research, allows the company’s retailer clients to conduct eerily realistic in-store marketing tests online. Watch this video to learn more about InContext Solutions.
Brian Krause, vice president of marketing and communications of Molex, which won a CIA for developing the Circular MT Expanded Beam Interconnect Solution. The product addresses the need for high reliability and easy to use connectors in the medical, data and telecommunications industries. Watch this video to learn more about Molex and the Circular MT Expanded Beam Interconnect
Pete Kadens, president of SoCore Energy, whose winning innovation is the SunLock solar energy solution, which enables businesses in flat-roofed commercial buildings to rent solar panels at an affordable price. Watch this video to learn more about SoCoreEnergy.
John Reale, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience management at USG Corporation, which won an Innovation Award for its SHEETROCK brand UltraLight Panel, a gypsum wallboard for contractors that is up to 30 percent lighter, yet as strong as a conventional board. Watch this video to learn more about USG and SHEETROCK.
Kuczmarski, who will serve as the panel’s moderator, is one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on the value of innovation. In addition to being the co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, he is the founder, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in accelerating growth through innovation. During his career, Kuczmarski has helped clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations learn to unlock the value of innovation. He is the author of five books on the subject, and for the past 30 years he has taught product and service innovation courses at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
In an interview, Kuczmarski was asked why this panel discussion would be of interest to him if he were a senior business marketing executive.
“The reason why I would want to be at this presentation is because I will be able to see and hear in live time innovation at its b-to-b best, because we will be bringing together USG, Molex, SoCore and InContext Solutions,” Kuczmarski said. “What we will explore with them are two major themes. The first is, what is the customer need that they created an innovation for, and then the second is, how have they articulated the value and the benefits of that new innovation to their customers.”
The Chicago Innovation Awards, which enter their 10th year in 2011, are the brainchild of Kuczmarski and Dan Miller, the former business editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and former executive vice president of the Heartland Institute.
"Our idea was rooted in the strong notion that companies do not acknowledge adequately innovation efforts and successes,” Kuczmarski recalled. “Moreover, I became tired of hearing only about technology innovation on the West Coast and financial services innovation on the East Coast. ‘Wait a minute,’ I’d say, ‘Chicago has a bunch of innovation going on.’”
And he and Miller set out to prove it. They founded the Chicago Innovation Awards in 2002. That first year they received about 50 nominations. “It’s grown bigger every year,” Kuczmarski said. “We had 332 nominations last year and 850 guests at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre for the annual sold-out ceremony.”
The program has come a long way indeed. At the 2010 awards ceremony on November 1, the keynote speaker was J.B. Pritzker, managing partner and co-founder of The Pritzker Group and founder of New World Ventures. Rocky Wirtz, president of Wirtz Corporation and owner and chairman of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, accepted the Visionary Award for his leadership in the greatest sports-business turnaround in history. And Blue Man Group received the Spirit of Innovation Award and gave special performances throughout the evening.
What’s more, the Chicago Innovation Awards no longer honors only the top 10 nominees. Each year the organization hosts a reception for all of the nominees (the 2010 event was at the House of Blues), where they can network and make contacts.
“But networking alone isn’t enough,” Kuczmarski said. “Innovation isn’t a ‘eureka’ moment. It is not invention. It is a process that can be taught and learned. In our definition, innovation needs proof of impact.” That’s why, in addition to the reception, the top 75 nominees receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend the Kellogg School of Management’s one-day executive education course called The Practical Innovator.
The Chicago Innovation Awards has been able to afford the embellishments it has added with the help of sponsors, which include The Wrigley Company, Allstate Insurance, Google, the law firm Vedder Price and Comcast Business Class.
About Tom Kuczmarski
About Bob Gillespie
About Brian Krause
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About Pete Kadens
About John Reale